Minneapolis World Cup and Party

Many thanks to Heather Aften for this awesome report and fun pictures from last weekend's World Cup event in Minneapolis!  

 Minneapolis World Cup recap

What a love fest that was! Never have I been to a sporting event that felt more joyous. Jessie Diggins’ long-awaited homecoming and Gus Schumacher’s miraculous win, cheered on by a ridiculously euphoric crowd, made me search my memory for apt sports analogies. To me, it felt on par with our beloved Boys in the Boat. 

Rather than a minute-by-minute summary, I’m going to share the things that stood out to me. 

  • After all the fuss about “sold out tickets,” no one checked. We just walked in and took our places along the course. Makes me sad for the people who were deterred from making the trip. 
  • The crowd went absolutely nuts each time it spotted Jessie. Skiing her warmup laps in her signature pink skirt and ponytail bobbing, she was easy to spot, and she was buoyed along every second of each day by people who loved her.

  • Fun stuff happens out on the course. While the finish line was celebratory, the crowds along the big climbs were more raucous. Here you found the hilarious signs (“I gave Ben Ogden mono”) and heard orchestrated group cheers (we were dragged into a very spirited chant of “Muzzy! Muzzy!” for UK skier Andrew Musgrave). Alcohol was flowing, but it was still family friendly. We walked the entire course (easily accessible via walkways through tunnels made with shipping containers placed under the ski tracks) to keep warm and every inch was packed with adoring fans. 

  • Klaebo was just as intense as you’d imagine he would be before a race. But also skinnier? I’d heard that he’d lost weight due to illness, and it was really evident close up. 
  • We came home loaded down with Gruyère ski ties, a slew of free hats, buffs, posters, stickers, and a few pounds courtesy of the free cheese samples. 
  • Gus. Gus? GUS!!!!! I’ve been following this guy for years, ever since his world juniors relay victory. I’m a sucker for any athlete who lives and trains in Alaska, having previously lived there in a neighborhood where APU skiers roller skied frequently in the summer. I read his Strava and Instagram posts detailing sickness and an early return home after disappointing WC results in previous years, but I also noticed the way Jessie Diggins was his idol, and that she appeared to take him under her wing. Was she sharing some of her magic team mojo with the boys? He’d show up to races with face glitter and hair braided on occasion. Something special was happening. So when he sat in the hot seat midway through Sunday’s race, I was not surprised. After all, he’d taken 4th a few weeks back in a sprint race (and he’s better known for his distance abilities). But still, knowing that Klaebo, Krueger, and Golberg were yet to come, it seemed obvious it would be temporary. The crowd went wild for him, wanting him to feel the success of his ski, thinking he’d be packing up his things and vacating the leader’s chair fairly quickly. But then, one after the other, the big names came in and no one unseated him. With each finish and the accompanying announcement proclaiming that no, it was NOT faster than Gus’s time, those of us on the knoll behind the finish line went bonkers, screaming, yelling, shaking our cowbells. When the final decision came in, we screamed and hugged. Gus’s voice sounded tearful in the post-race interview. To win against that stacked crowd of Norwegians on home soil after a 40-year drought in US men’s distance wins?!?! I’m not at all exaggerating when I tell you I fell asleep smiling. 
  • The entire weekend felt like the crowd was saying thank you to Jessie. Thank you for helping to put American skiing on the radar. Thank you for bringing the World Cup home to the US. Thank you for inspiring so many young skiers, boys and girls alike. Thank you for being open about your eating disorder and all the scary issues that face women in sports. Thank you for showing us what it looks like to be a good teammate, a gracious loser, and a true fighter. She could have been first or last and would have received the same amount of love. 
  • We attended a showing of a documentary called “Kikkan” on Saturday night, and Kikkan Randall herself was in attendance and on stage. NBC co-announcer Chad Samela introduced her and facilitated a Q and A. He pointed out that there is a direct line from her successes to everything we saw this weekend in Minneapolis. She helped lay the groundwork, create the environment, and make a generation of Americans believe there was a chance. I’m so glad she got some love this weekend, too. See the documentary if you get a chance—you’ll see some familiar faces!

  • Watching “kids” like Walker Hall and Novie McCabe from the Methow join the world’s best seems simultaneously inevitable and mindblowing. If you ever saw them ski at one of our local races, you are probably not surprised but nonetheless completely impressed. 

To sum it up, if you have a chance to go see your skiing heroes in action, take it. Of course you can follow the race easier on television, but nothing beats the electricity of the real thing.


  1. Love the report!! Very exciting weekend and so happy for Jessica and Gus and US skiing future!

  2. Gus didn't just win in Minneapolis. He, like Jessie Diggins, also traveled up to Hayward (actually Cable, WI, this year) for the American Birkie and didn't disappoint, once again. Two weekends; two huge victories. Of course, neither victory was easy. Jessie's win at the Birkie was perhaps anticipated; she played with the only woman who dared go with her form the start and then, just like a cagey bike racer, blew her away over the final 5K to claim her first Birkie victory, albeit on a lean-snow-year 5 X 10K loop. Gus's victory wasn't so simple, particularly as the morning unfolded and Gus appeared to be falling off the pace and letting the lead group get pretty far ahead, maybe two minutes down the trail by my rough reckoning. Of course, 50K is a very long way, and Gus is a seasoned racer with apparently practiced patience. By the last lap he'd worked (clawed?) his way back into the lead group of nine (likely putting the fear of god in each of them once they knew who'd showed up to the party). At the finish, he, like Jessie, was all alone, smiling and waving, like she had minutes earlier, as if he'd just been out for a little tour on skis with friends. We had all been chanting "Jessie Jessie, Jessie!" moments earlier and now here we were chanting "Gus, Gus, Gus!" as the two skiers of the week took their accolades and hugged each other. Like gold medalist and World Cup leader, like protégé. Both weekends, amazing!


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